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One slow weekend we decided to check out Takayama-sha, a site in Fujioka linked to the old way of producing silk, namely the care and cultivation of silkworms, and the harvesting of their cocoons to make silk. Takayama is one of four places in Gunma relating to silk production that has been submitted as a set for consideration of the World Heritage Society to become a protected Heritage site in 2014. If the application goes through, Takayama as well as three other old-style buildings across Gunma relating to the beginning stages of silk production will be acknowledged as important to the historical production of silk and will help bring tourism to Gunma. So Fujioka is trying to promote these places by passing out flyers and advertising it.

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A lot of the signage is new, but not in English yet. However the gist of it is that the building was used for breeding and cultivating silk worms, as well as for research purposes and as a training center for the greater area.

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Heading up towards the building, it seems like a lot of structural clean-up work has been done

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Plaque proclaiming it an important cultural resource to Gunma

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The building

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We got a tour through the downstairs rooms where training and living was done

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Including some preserved records of temperature versus growth of the silkworms through the year

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We were the only two there, and got lucky enough to go to the upstairs area, which is usually not open since it is pretty rickety

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This is where the silkworms were kept and cultivated. The old newspapers were really interesting! Very drafty though

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There was something significant to this pit, but I can’t remember what it is…

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These are the four candidates submitted as a group to the World Heritage site people. The first one is Takayama-sha, the second the big brick silk mill in Tomioka, which is pretty famous in its own right, the third is a school in Isesaki dedicated to teaching about the care of silk worms, and the fourth is a storage area (like the pit above but natural) in Shimonita.

It was a really interesting experience to go see it, and I definitely want to visit the other three too!

Next we went to Takenuma, a lake nearby since we were in the area.

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There were lots of stray cats

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And roubai flowers… in English this is called allspice or wintersweet according to google. Roubai are the first flowers to bloom in the new year, usually from about mid-January to mid-February. They smell REALLY good and are strong, although the flowers aren’t much to look at.

After that, Kenji wanted to go get a haircut in Fujioka, so I walked around to some of the shrines nearby to practice using my wide angle lens on the camera.

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Kenji translated this sign, so I took a picture for him

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And of the temple attached to it!

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Lanterns and sazanka, another winter-blooming flower

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Playing with the wide-angle lens

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Perhaps having a bit too much fun with it…

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Aaand that’s it!